BOSTON –- Nathan Horton was looking for something a little more “quiet” than the Boston market, and he seems to have found it in signing a seven-year deal for $37.1 million, according to a source close to Horton.
The former Bruins right winger will get $30 million in his first five seasons of the contract, but will miss the first few months of the 2013-14 season with a left shoulder surgery stemming from a chronic injury exacerbated in the Stanley Cup Final. The 28-year-old Horton informed the Bruins last weekend that he wouldn’t be returning to Boston, and would instead be looking for “a new beginning” at another NHL destination in a smaller marketplace.
A source close to Horton reaffirmed that the decision to leave Boston and go to Columbus "was totally personal. (Horton) and his wife never truly got comfortable with big city living. That's all it was."
Horton certainly found that smaller marketplace in an up-and-coming Columbus hockey market that’s bursting with young talent that nearly qualified for a playoff spot last season, and where the Blue Jackets would be best served getting the right winger back into the postseason. Horton will attempt to be a difference-maker there after posting 13 goals and 22 points this season in his comeback year from a pair of concussions, and then exploding for seven goals, 19 points and a plus-20 rating in a 22-game postseason run for the Black and Gold.
The Blue Jackets will clearly get a playoff stud if they can make the postseason, but there will be major bouts of streakiness during the regular season coupled with a player more interested in being a complimentary player rather than the face of the franchise.
In fact the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in both of the seasons where Horton was a healthy and effective player for Boston, and that bodes well for the Blue Jackets if they can get into the postseason.
A smaller, quieter market will also benefit Horton, who appeared to become increasingly uncomfortable with the media attention over the last three years in Boston, and perhaps wanted the small market benefits of Florida with a competitive, talented team more like the Bruins.
Horton likely feels like he’s achieved both of those things while signing the seven year contract with the Blue Jackets for a $5.3 average annual value that’s close to the $5.5 million he earned in his final season with the Bruins. There may be some questions as to whether the concussion and shoulder woes will strike Horton again over the course of the next seven seasons.